The Influence of Yellow Journalism

Table of Content

There were various factors that played a part in the Spanish American War, including economic difficulties and the competition for dominance in Asia. However, one of the key factors that greatly influenced the war was Yellow Journalism. Yellow Journalism is a type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and exaggerated claims to attract a larger audience. In simpler terms, writers used Yellow Journalism as a means to attract more readers through exaggerated reporting. All in all, Yellow Journalism had numerous ways in which it contributed to the Spanish American War.

The main reason for the Spanish American War was the liberation of Cuba from Spain (War and Conflict: Pre-Twentieth Century – Why Was The Spanish-American War Fought?). One major contributing factor was the sinking of The Maine on February 25, 1898, which resulted in the deaths of over 200 men (War and Conflict: Pre-Twentieth Century – Why Was The Spanish-American War Fought?). Charles D. Sigsbee vividly describes the event as “a bursting, rending, and crashing roar of immense volume, largely metallic in character.”

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The sinking of The Maine was accompanied by heavy, ominous metallic sounds, causing the vessel to tremble and lurch and list to port. The electric lights went out, plunging the scene into intense blackness and smoke. There was no mistaking the situation – The Maine had been blown up and was sinking. Initially driven by self-preservation instinct, I soon regained control and exercised my habitual command. This event was of great significance in relation to the Spanish American War. Given the enormity of The Maine’s sinking, it provided ample opportunity for Yellow Journalism to seize control.

The American press unequivocally blamed the Spanish for the sinking of The Maine, labeling them as cowardly saboteurs. The New York Journal went so far as to publish pictures alongside their exaggerated stories, illustrating how the Spanish had attached an underwater mine to The Maine and detonated it from the shore. A Yellow Journalism article on The Maine stated that while its destruction did not immediately lead to a declaration of war against Spain, it served as a catalyst, bolstering support for armed intervention. The sinking of The Maine was greatly exaggerated by the American press, who presented amplified facts without outright falsehoods. This manipulation contributed to the Spanish American War by influencing public opinion on a national scale.

During its time, American Press was widely popular and extensively utilized across the country. Given that it served as one of the few sources of information about events beyond their local areas, the people of the United States highly trusted it (The Spanish-American War; Yellow Journalism). Prominent figures in the newspaper industry, such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, competed for readers’ attention. Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal, famously stated, “You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war” (Liukkonen), suggesting his desire for a conflict between Spain and America. He published numerous articles highlighting the mistreatment of Cubans by the Spaniards. His prominent reporters focused on stories depicting “female prisoners, executions, valiant rebels fighting, and starving women and children” (Crucible of Empire; Yellow Journalism), aiming to evoke sympathy from American readers. Similarly, Pulitzer ran the New York World and published stories akin to Hearst’s.

Pulitzer played a role in the commencement of the Spanish American War. As an illustration, he penned an article advising President McKinley to initiate war against Spain, aiming to showcase his influence (Liukkonen). Additionally, he printed articles regarding The Maine incident. Both Pulitzer and his counterpart were determined to attract a daily readership of one million, even if it meant embellishing some of their stories to achieve this objective (The Spanish-American War; Yellow Journalism). During the era of the Spanish American War, technology was limited, with the printing press being their primary tool.

The newspapers published stories about the situation in Cuba, including horrifying accounts of female prisoners, executions, valiant rebels, and starving women and children. These stories, known as yellow journalism, greatly contributed to the Spanish American War. If the printing press back then had the technology we have today, the war would have been drastically different due to the fabrication of stories and exaggeration of situations.

Although Yellow Journalism was not the sole cause of the Spanish American War, it was a significant contributing factor. Despite declining popularity and frowning upon by Americans in later years, Yellow Journalism persisted and is still used by newspapers today. Publications like The Enquirer, The Star, and The Globe continue to employ Yellow Journalism, demonstrating its ongoing impact on society across different time periods. OPVL Word Count: 239

Source: A Quote from Charles D. Sigsbee
Origin: The origin of this source is Charles D. Sigsbee. Charles D. Sigsbee was the commander of the USS Maine, which was destroyed during the Spanish American War.
Purpose: The purpose was to show what had happened during the attack on the Maine ship.
Values: One value of this source is it helps people understand what it was exactly like to be there, in that moment, while the Maine was being attacked.
Limitation: One limitation of this source would be that it was only from one person and it could be different than a lot of other people’s opinions.

Sigsbee may have exaggerated the description, according to the source “Crucible Of Empire : The Spanish-American War – PBS Online.” The source originates from PBS and aims to provide information about the Spanish American War, specifically focusing on how “Yellow Journalism” played a role in it. This source values the inclusion of details about William Randolph Hearst, a renowned “yellow” journalist, and provides decent information on the concept of “Yellow Journalism.”

Limitations: The source lacked sufficient information about Joseph Pulitzer, only providing a brief overview. In contrast, it extensively covered William Hearst’s contributions to the war. Additionally, the source lacked numerous examples of article headlines.

Works Cited

“Crucible Of Empire: The Spanish-American War – PBS Online.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 3 Dec. 2010. “Joseph Pulitzer.” Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken Kaupunginkirjasto, 2008. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. “Remember the Maine.” Small Planet. Web. 2 Dec. 2010. “War And Conflict: Pre-Twentieth Century – Why Was The Spanish-American War Fought?.” History Fact Finder. Ed. Julie L. Carnagie. UXL-GALE, 2001. 2006. 30 Nov. 2010. “USS MAINE.” Naval History and Heritage Command. 13 Aug. 2003. Web. 3 Dec. 2010. “Yellow Journalism — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

Cite this page

The Influence of Yellow Journalism. (2017, Jan 23). Retrieved from

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